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New Florida bill proposes strong restriction of personal pronouns in workplaces

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In what could fuel a new round of legislative battles about gender identity, a House Republican on Tuesday filed a bill that would place strong restrictions on government agencies in the use of personal pronouns.

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The bill (HB 599), filed by Rep. Ryan Chamberlin, R-Belleview, for the 2024 legislative session, also would restrict workplace training about issues involving sexual orientation and gender identity.

Mirroring parts of a law that the Republican-controlled Legislature passed this spring about gender identity issues in the education system, the bill says it is “the policy of the state that a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”

The proposed bill would ban state and local government agencies from requiring employees and contractors to refer to other people “using that person’s preferred personal title or pronouns if such personal title or pronouns do not correspond to that person’s sex” as determined at birth.

Also, the bill would ban employees of government agencies and contractors from providing to their employers preferred pronouns that “do not correspond to his or her sex” and would prevent employers from asking workers to provide personal pronouns.

Employees or contractors could pursue violations through complaints to the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

“It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to take adverse personnel action against an employee or a contractor because of the employee’s or contractor’s deeply held religious or biology-based beliefs, including a belief in traditional or Biblical views of sexuality and marriage, or the employee’s or contractor’s disagreement with gender ideology, whether those views are expressed by the employee or contractor at or away from the worksite,” the bill says.

READ: Teachers and students grapple with fears and confusion about new laws restricting pronoun use

Along with the personal-pronouns issue, the bill would prevent non-profit organizations or employers that get money from the state from requiring workers to take part in “training, instruction or other activity on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis have approved a series of controversial laws in recent years targeting issues about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools and health care. Parts of Chamberlin’s bill match almost word-for-word personal-pronoun restrictions included in an education bill (HB 1069) passed during the 2023 session.

The 2024 session will start Jan. 9. Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, immediately blasted the proposal Tuesday, in part calling it “highly unconstitutional” and saying it would apply to non-profit organizations such as the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Florida.

“Florida Republicans just filed legislation that would essentially ban gender pronouns in PRIVATE businesses and prohibit training about pronouns in nonprofits too,” Eskamani wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Would basically ban @equalityfl from existing.”

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